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An art gallery in Kolkata turns 25 in style with two new shows

A feast for the eyes at CIMA gallery's 25th anniversary shows in Kolkata

‘Wounded Family’ by Bikash Bhattacharjee. Photographs courtesy Cima gallery
‘Wounded Family’ by Bikash Bhattacharjee. Photographs courtesy Cima gallery

In the 1980s, the artistically inclined would haunt the premises of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kolkata, spilling over to Rabindra Sadan, Nandan cinema, and the Government College of Art & Craft—that began to change when state-of-the-art galleries started coming up in the 1990s. Founded in 1992, the Centre of International Modern Art (Cima) was one of the first among these, not only offering viewers a glimpse of the traditions of the art in Bengal, but also opening their eyes to practices from beyond.

As it turned 25 last year, Cima launched ReLook, an exhibition representing the arc of its evolution, which is now complemented by Response, running at Gem cinema, a once popular but now derelict establishment in central Kolkata. The shift from the pristine white cube of the gallery to the dust and grime of a restored building is refreshing, so is the range of work presented at the two spaces. Between the Old Masters and the young(er) Turks of contemporary Indian art, there’s something for every taste.

Cima’s chief strength is its decades-long investment in traditional forms. From Jogen Chowdhury to Ganesh Pyne to Bikash Bhattacharjee, it has hosted artists who are iconic by any estimation of contemporary art. Cima has also patronized shining younger talents, notably the late Sumitro Basak, Shreyasi Chatterjee, Jaya Ganguly and Shakila.

‘Bakasur’ by Jogen Chowdhury.

In Response, a group of 36 artists, such as Ranbir Kaleka, Jayashree Barman and Hiran Mitra (mostly known as an art director in cinema), play with a distinctly multidisciplinary idiom that involves diverse formats like light, sound and installations. For those in Kolkata this month, these exhibitions would be well worth a visit.

ReLook is on till 24 February at Cima, 43, Ashutosh Chowdhury Avenue . Response is on till 28 February at Gem Cinema, 159/8, AJC Bose Road.

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